Karl Rove’s departure from the White House has renewed media interest in the word “divisive,” which is typically hurled about by pundit types as some sort of epithet. The action line reads as follows: “Rove was a scumbag! A weenie! A living turd, animated by his own hellspawn bile! And why? Because he was divisive! DIVISIVE! DIVISIVE, I tells ya!”
I honestly don’t understand this.
Politics, by its very nature, is – and ought to be – divisive. If you believe in one thing and your opponent believes in something else, that principle divides you – hence, division: a product of divisiveness. Show me a politician who is not divisive, and I’ll show you somebody who doesn’t stand for much of anything. THAT’S the guy we want back in Washington – the guy who’s everyone’s buddy. So on the day when he’s asked to cast a vote on, say, whether or not we go to war, he takes a long lunch and, when the tally is counted, he makes excuses for his absence and gives all the other senators hugs. This would inspire complete unity among those who knew the guy – 100% of them would think the dude was a total boob.
So am I a jerk or what? What’s wrong with me? Can’t we all just get along?
Actually, we can, which gets to the root of what I think the “divisiveness” weenies are really whining about. They want us to keep our divisions in perspective and be pals. And it’s true that some divisions are relatively unimportant. Actually, most divisions are relatively unimportant. Coke and Pepsi drinkers can set aside their differences and make out with each other, provided the lust that unites them is more important than their divisive taste in carbonated drinks. And how many folks refuse to speak to the people who think John Lennon was more talented than Paul McCartney? I mean, besides me?
I’ve spent quite a bit of time on the Internet being divisive, mainly because I’m pure evil. It makes me chuckle to see how upset I can make people when I tell them that the new “Battlestar Galactica” (i.e. Galactica In Name Only) sucks. I thoroughly enjoy the fact that there’s a loonbat who thinks I’m on the payroll of Universal Studios. The truth is that I’d be happy to go to dinner with a GINOid or a Universal hack. I’m not willing to spurn a human being who likes different TV shows than I do. (I would likely spurn Languatron if I met him in person, but I’m betting I could justify that on hygienic grounds.)
We overlook tiny divisions and manage to work, live, and even have children with people with whom we have disagreements. Most of us can muddle through the whole squeeze-the-toothpaste-tube-from-the-bottom-or-the-top dilemma without coming to blows. But bigger disagreements have to be settled in inherently divisive ways. And that’s probably as good a definition of politics as anything.
I remember back during the election of 1996, Stephen R. Covey was on “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” Matthews asked him what advice he had for the two candidates, and Covey, who was on Seven-Habits-autopilot, said that the first thing that Dole and Clinton had to do was to “think win-win.” When Matthews noted the obvious, which was that elections are “win-lose” by their very nature, Covey scoffed at what he considered to be Matthews’ “outdated” thinking. (He didn’t offer much in the way of what thinking was up to date at the time.)
As near as I can tell, divisive elections are the only ones that work. Dictators are pretty good at getting unanimous vote totals, but they also kill people who vote against them. I like divisiveness better than death squads.
By Covey’s reasoning, every football game would end in a tie, which would mean a lot fewer people would be interested in football, which would be fine by me, because the football season usually pushes the start of the new season of “The Simpsons” almost into December. But I divisively digress.
Rove is divisive? For heaven’s sake, life is divisive. Politics is probably a better solution to this than bloodshed, but sometimes even going to war is necessary if the division is deep enough. And, yes, I recognize the divisiveness of that position. But if you want to kill me, I’m not interested in finding middle ground. That’s why I scoff at the folks who self-righteously stand on platitudes like “war is not the answer” or “there’s got to be a better way.” There’s got to be a better way? Well, what is it? Because I’d love to hear it, but I’m not going to let someone drop a bomb on my family while you’re trying to figure it out.
I’m just divisive that way.
So was Karl Rove divisive during his tenure in the White House? Sure. And good for him. Abraham Lincoln was pretty divisive, too. Then again, so was Adolf Hitler. Being divisive isn’t inherently a good thing. It’s just the nature of the beast. What really matters is which side of the divide you’re on.
Languatron ought to bathe more often.